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Bombe Breakthrough: The Machines That Decoded WW2

Poland's role in helping the UK break enigma codes during the Second World War has been celebrated at Bletchley Park.

Poland's role in helping the UK break enigma codes during the Second World War has been celebrated at Bletchley Park.

His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent helped open a new exhibition that reveals more about the technology that helped Britain win the war.

The Bombe Breakthrough in Hut 11A looks into the story of the Bombe machines in their actual location where they broke the enigma codes.

During World War Two, the codes seemed unbreakable but thanks to codebreakers like Alan Turing, Britain began to decipher the German messages which gave them the intelligence upper hand. 

His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent Opens Hut 11A
His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent opens the special exhibit.

In just 12 minutes the machine would test out a possible 17,576 enigma rotor positions. From there codebreakers would work on filling in the rest of the key to break the German cipher.

Before the machines, other nations were already breaking the codes.

In the 1930s Polish scientists and mathematicians were breaking the enigma's codes. 

Peronel Craddock, Head of Collections and exhibitions at Bletchley Park said Alan Turing was able to create the Bombe machines because of the help from Poland as well as other codebreakers. 

"All of the work that the Polish had done was shared with the British at the outbreak of WW2 - at that point, Alan Turing was on board."

Alan Turing

"He and other codebreakers took all the body of knowledge and experience that had been developed, which really contributed to his idea for the Bombe machine."

Within the exhibit, people can get up close to artefacts that have never before been seen by the public. 

Its aim is to change some of the myths about code-breaking at Bletchley.

At the exhibit they're highlighting the fact there wasn't just one machine, there were hundreds. 

Iain Standen says they were based at Bletchley Park and within the local area.

"There were around 250 machines this side of the Atlantic and about the same in America."

The machines were designed by scientists and were operated by Royal Navy Wrens with the RAF engineers repairing them.

Alan Turing's nephew, Sir Dermot Turing described the modern stresses we have with data and how it hasn't changed much since the 1940s. 

"We worry about people snooping into our mobile phones and whether it's possible for state authorities to get hold of your WhatsApp messages. This is still as relevant today as it was in the 1940s."

 By D Day, the Bombe machines were breaking 3,000 German messages a day and by the end of the war, they decoded 2.5million pieces of German intelligence.